"Dr. Laura, I know I can't raise healthy kids if I'm always flying off the handle, but do you have any tips on staying centered with two kids? I just don't have time to do the things I used to do to take care of myself, like going to the gym. And I'm so tired all the time!" - Emily
"Dr. Laura, I'm great with my kids on vacation. But most of the time now, I'm just so stressed out, my default is yelling!" - David
These comments sparked the series we just finished, The Secret of the Full Cup: Nurturing Yourself while Raising Your Child. All of the posts in the series are listed below.
During a pandemic, it's all the more important to take care of yourself, so you can handle all the stress. So I hope this series has inspired you to notice your own needs and take better care of yourself.
Self care can seem out of reach for parents, so we often give up, and settle for junk food. But I'm not suggesting that you go on vacation without your children, or binge on cookies. I'm suggesting something far more radical. For our children to learn to regulate their emotions, WE have to regulate ourselves emotionally. If a cookie will help you do that, by all means, go ahead. But my hope for you is much more profound.
My hope is that you'll find habits that support you in staying more peaceful and centered. That's hard work. But if you can use your love for your child as your motivation to do the hard work of learning to regulate your own emotions and moods, you’ll be giving your child a tremendous gift. And the gift to yourself will be even greater, because you’ll end up happier and more emotionally healthy.
The bottom line is that once we're old enough to have kids, we're responsible for who we are and how we show up in life. If we had a rocky start or a bad hand of cards, it's up to us to find a way to heal those wounds and play the heck out of that hand. The only way to do that is to love ourselves unconditionally.
Not easy, right? In fact, it's the most creative work there is: Creating love where there wasn't any before. I personally believe that work is our purpose here.
Just like our children, we can only “act good” when we feel good inside. And while cookies and bubble baths have their place, what we really need is something much deeper: an internal “parent” to love us unconditionally so that we can discover our own unshakable inner happiness. That's the secret work of adulthood, and it's also the secret of keeping our cups full: Learning to parent ourselves as the emotionally generous, nurturing parent we all needed, and still need inside.
And that is my wish for you: That you find a way to offer yourself all the love and nurturing you so deeply deserve. There is no reason to wait. There is nothing that has to change for you to love yourself deeply. I know you have faults and have made mistakes -- join the club. That's why it's called unconditional love!
If you take nothing else from these blog posts, please seize this Aha! Moment. YOU are more than enough, exactly as you are.
Posts in this Series:
This is the final post (#10) in our series on self care: The Secret of the Full Cup: Nurturing Yourself while Raising Your Child
The previous posts were:
#10- The secret of keeping our cup full is learning to parent ourselves. (this post)